“Later on, I went to work for David and Lesley Cohn for over seven years, at Dakota and then Blue Point — a great learning experience. And right after that, there was a change in my life. Me being a chef, and my ex-wife graduated from the police academy...talk about a fork in the road! So we broke up, and I took some time off and went to the Cordon Bleu in Paris.”
When he came back, he was chef at Gulf Coast for a few years, but at the end of opening day, his best friend and co-chef went home and committed suicide, so he doesn’t like to remember that period. “After that, I got lucky to work for Ed Moore, when he was opening the Third Corner. I helped him revamp his Thee Bungalow menu for a year and a half. Then an old friend of mine introduced me to Brad Miller, and we had this chemistry and he had this great energy. He gave me the opportunity to redirect Gringo’s and then to open JRDN for him.”
After more than five years working for Miller, Jimenez quit JRDN to take some time off to recover his health after all the years of nonstop work. “I needed to remove myself from everything and everybody and get healthy, because I was going through a lot of stuff in my life. I went into the basement and hibernated for a good amount of time. Then my friend Jon [Weber] got me out of the basement and got me involved in his dream of making this restaurant.” I asked him whether he’d worked at Ruth’s Chris in the interim, since their website shows his name as chef at the Harbor Drive branch, and one of the managers there told me it was the same Victor Jimenez who just opened Cowboy Star. Victor says they once tried to recruit him, but he never actually worked there. (Will the real Victor Jimenez please stand up?)
“I’m really happy and excited about what we’ve got,” Jimenez says, “and the transformation of this area here. When I was thinking about this place, I thought over the theme of cowboy stars. I think of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood and Gene Autry. I was playing with the idea of the cowboy stars of the screen, fantasies of being a star, and it just gave me an outlet to start creating in that aspect. Perhaps those guys were really full vegetarians! But they all came across as steak guys.”
640 Tenth Avenue (north of Market), 619-450-5880, thecowboystar.com.
HOURS: Lunch weekdays 10:30 a.m.–2:00 p.m.; dinner Tuesday–Thursday 5:00–10:00 p.m.; Friday–Saturday till 10:30 p.m.; Sunday brunch noon–3:00 p.m. Butcher shop open Tuesday–Friday noon–7:00 p.m.; Sunday noon–3:00 p.m.
PRICES: Starters, $8–$18; entrées, $19–$30; steaks, $29–$43.
CUISINE AND BEVERAGES: Carnivorous California green cuisine, emphasizing high-quality beef (USDA prime or grass-fed and natural) and wild game, wild or free-range fowl, and wild-caught seafood. Mainly California wines, wide range of prices and styles. Full bar.
PICK HITS: Wild boar carpaccio; buttermilk-fried sweetbreads; sarsaparilla quail; bison rib-eye; grass-fed petite filet; dry-aged strip-steak; Meyer lemon pot au crème.
NEED TO KNOW: Paid parking lot across the street (may be full during Petco games). Sound lively, can be loud when full. No vegetarian entrées.